tv 60 Minutes on CNBC CNBC May 15, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT
[ticking] >> oh-ho! mama mia! >> ted turner is one of the largest individual landowners in the united states. he owns two million acres across 12 states. he's been described as a genius and a jackass. he's decided to reflect on a tumultuous life and more or less tell all. >> good girl, dixie. >> ted turn may have mellowed a bit, but he's still incapable of pulling his punches. >> now there's not anybody i don't like. but after this interview's over, i may not like you. >> [chuckling] yeah. [ticking] >> i suppose you can say anyone who wants to win so badly, who am i winning for? am i winning for oracle
shareholders, or is it simply a matter of personal vanity? i'll admit to it, mea culpa. an awful lot of it is personal vanity. i think we are curious about ourselves. we're curious about our own limits, then we try to discover or own limits. and a lot of what keeps me going and keeps my drive is, i'm curious as to how far i can go, how far oracle can go. they're inextricably linked. [ticking] >> t. boone pickens is on a national campaign to change american energy policy. his plan is to replace foreign oil with natural gas and wind, which he says will be good for the country and good for him. what's the balance for you between, "i'm doing something for america," and, "i'm doing something for boone?" >> oh, you know, no question. i'm rich enough. i mean, let's don't talk about boone. but i don't want-- >> what do you mean, don't talk about boone? boone thinks about boone. >> well, let me tell you, i sure as hell don't want
to lose. i'll tell you that. >> welcome to 60 minutes on cnbc. i'm steve kroft. in this edition, we meet three maverick businessmen: medial mogul ted turner, tech tycoon larry ellison, and oil man turned alternative energy crusader t. boone pickens. we begin with ted turner. the cable news pioneer built an empire and a massive fortune in the 1980s, only to lose a good chunk of both in the ill-fated aol time warner merger of 2001. despite the losses, he's maintained the manic energy that drove him to change the landscape of the information age by creating cnn and 24-hour news. the man once described as both genius and jackass sat down with morley safer in 2008, shortly after the release of his memoir, to reflect on his tumultuous life. >> ted turner is one of the largest individual landowners in the united states, owning two million acres
across 12 states. we caught up with him at one of his montana ranches. this lonesome cowboy, who hates his own company. you hate being alone. >> i don't like being alone. these are big places to be alone. i tell you, come out here and spend the night by yourself sometime. you know, the coyotes out there howling. ah-ooh! >> [chuckling] >> [chortles] it's pretty scary. >> out here at the snowcrest ranch, ted turner is not alone. he keeps company with bison, horses, and a stream full of ruby river trout. oh-ho! mama mia! that's a real nice fish. >> life is good for ted turner. he's not your average old age pensioner. this most restless of men jets around the world... >> here we go. >> promoting good causes, dreaming up new business ventures, and dropping in on his dozens of properties scattered about the hemisphere. and now as he turns 70,
he's written his book. so after his morning ride, the man who proudly says he never looks back decided to do just that, to let ted reflect on ted. >> i've had the good fortune to have a much more diverse life than most people, with professional sports and television and news and movies. >> and a fairly spectacular private life too. >> well, it's been a lot of fun. >> ted turner burst on the scene in 1977 when he captained courageous, the yacht that won the americas cup. as a blottoed turner celebrated, captain outrageous emerged. [laughter and cheering] but it was his groundbreaking creation of cnn that put turner indelibly on the map. but his company's rapid growth and ballooning debt nearly bankrupted him. >> i was gonna go broke if i didn't get things turned around real fast. but i was able to get it refinanced, without government
help, i might add, unlike what's going on today. but we made it. well, by the skin on our chinny chin-chin. two years later, we made a run at cbs. unsuccessful, but we did take a swing. >> instead, turner went on on to create his own broadcasting powerhouse. and when he merged his company with time warner in 1996, his status as media visionary was confirmed. >> i didn't care how much adversity life threw at me, i intended to get to the top. >> the adversity started at infancy, shipped off to boarding school at the age of four, followed by years military school for discipline. he says his alcoholic father did everything he could to toughen him up. you had a pretty tough father. >> so what? you know, lots of people have tough fathers. >> he beat you up. >> no, he didn't beat me up. he spanked me. >> spanked me with a wire hanger? >> yeah, a couple times. >> but that's pretty traumatic stuff.
>> it was, but it was doing it to make me better. >> and you think it made you better? >> i think so. >> at age 21, he began working for his father's outdoor advertising business, but shortly after an event that both shaped and shattered ted turner. your father's suicide, that would strike me as something that would be awfully difficult for anybody to get over. >> sure. >> were you out to prove something to him even though he was gone? >> he wanted me to be a big success, and all my life, i've tried to be a big success. so his influence was huge. >> that success is plastered all over the walls of his atlanta office. cnn made turner into a statesman of sorts, hobnobbing with world leaders. but he may be best remembered for the impolitic things he's said, insulting christianity, fellow billionaires, even the italians. >> the italians, the italians.
imagine the italians at war. i mean, they'd rather be involved in crime and just making some wine and having a good time. his utter inability to self censor earned turner the nickname "the mouth from the south." to some, it was evidence of true mental instability. turner admits he took the drug lithium for a while, but said it had no effect. but that didn't stop his rival, rupert murdoch, from questioning his sanity during their legendary war of words. his newspapers were pretty brutal in attacking you. >> oh, all the time. >> they called you crazy. >> that's right. >> nuts, i think they said. >> he had a detective following me around at times. at least i think he did. i never had any proof of it. >> you once said that murdoch was the most dangerous man in the world. you still believe that? >> no. i've made peace with rupert. we had lunch together a few months ago. now there's not anybody i don't like. but after this interview's over, i may not like you.
>> [chuckling] yeah. vintage ted turner. as was his joy when he agreed to aol's merger with time warner. >> i did it with-- with as much or more excitement and enthusiasm as i did on that night when i first made love some 42 years ago. it was that--it's that kind of... >> he was now worth $10 billion. but shortly after the merger, turner was pushed aside by time warner brass-- vice chairman of nothing-- even though he was the company's largest individual stockholder. then the internet bubble burst, and aol time warner's stock went into freefall. you were losing nearly $10 million a day... >> no. >> for 2 1/2 years. >> a million a day. >> a million a day for 2 1/2 years? >> wait a minute. that'd be 700 million. no, you're right, 10 million a day. hey, listen, i didn't-- i get thousands, millions, and billions mixed up and i-- >> but when you're bleeding $10 million a day, at some point you just got
to say, "i'm getting out of this." >> but my kids were all in the stock, most of my friends were. so i sat there loyally and went down the drain with everybody else. [ticking] >> coming up, jane fonda on ted turner. >> it's impossible to really be with ted the way he needs someone to be with him and have any kind of life of your own. >> he's perfectly aware of it. he said to me, he said, "i hate being alone." >> he's aware that it makes it hard for the person who's, you know, trying to love him. >> but what's interesting is, the moment he's in one place for a couple of days, he's got to move on to somewhere else. >> yeah, when you're chased by demons, you have to keep moving. >> that's ahead when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. [ticking] [ female announcer ] e-trade technology
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>> ted turner lost a reported $7 billion when his aol time warner stock went into freefall. to turner, it was apocalypse now. his marriage to jane fonda was breaking up, a grandchild was gravely ill, and he was jobless. his five children were worried that like his father, turner might take is own life. >> he contemplated suicide. and i was really worried. when jane left him and, you know, they took away his job the way they did, he was... >> that's right. >> that was the lowest i'd ever seen him. >> he was really depressed, and a lot of other things
were happening in our family as well. so it was a really, really tough time for him. he barreled through it. >> and he also got help. he got professional help. >> he went to a shrink? >> yeah. >> exactly. >> and he said he always left his shrink and he cheered his shrink up. [laughter] he said he would leave him laughing. >> turner admits he spent more time gallivanting around the globe than he did being a father. i think he may be the most restless man i've ever met. >> we never sat down for a meal for more than 15 minutes. i guarantee you. >> he'd also give the monologue. the conversation was his through the whole dinner. >> the operative word is "monologue," yes? >> he likes to talk at you. >> "so how was your day-- time to go." >> yeah, after a vacation with dad, you need a vacation. >> recently, turner says, he has become a better father and feels his relationship with his children is his greatest achievement. if his kids is his greatest achievement, what do you think is his biggest disappointment? >> i've heard him say
his failure of his marriages. >> he's been married three times, most famously to actress jane fonda--a union that lasted ten years. you seemed really happy, you and jane fonda together? >> we were for a long time. >> and what went wrong? >> it's hard to tell. obviously it was a combination of things. >> do you wish that the marriage had managed to survive? >> well, i didn't. i mean, there's no point in sitting around and crying about spilt milk. got to move on. >> moving on is turner's mantra. it also put a hex on his marriage to jane fonda. >> it's impossible to really be with ted the way he needs someone to be with him and have any kind of life of your own. >> he's perfectly aware of it. he said to me, he said, "i hate being alone." >> he's aware that it makes it hard for the person who's, you know, trying to love him. >> but what's interesting is, the moment he's in one place for a couple of days, he's got to move on to somewhere else. >> yeah, when you're chased
by demons, you have to keep moving. >> though they've been divorced for eight years, they're in some way inseparable. >> you know, if-- if ted really needed me, i would be there in a blue minute. >> yeah, i think he misses you a lot. >> i think--i think he does. yeah. [sighs] i'm not getting emotional because i wish i was still living with him. but i--he touches me deeply, deeply, the contradictions that make up ted turner. >> turner admits being a husband is not his strong suit. >> you have a tough time of monogamy, correct? >> it's a lot easier now. >> now that you're not married, you mean. >> well, and being 70 too. >> but you still have a lot of girlfriends. >> i still have some. >> [chortles] >> i'm dating. >> turner now dates several women at once, and they all look remarkably
alike. they take turns as traveling companions in his restless wandering. and he's as generous as ever with his philanthropy. he famously pledged $1 billion to the u.n. and has given another half billion or so to causes he believes in. but lest you think turner has completely withdrawn from business, welcome to ted's montana grill. >> everything okay? >> home of the bison burger. >> hi. >> turner started the eco-friendly chain as a way of insuring the survival of his favorite mammal, both on a bun and roaming the prairie. >> so these are bison. >> yeah. >> don't step in the poop. >> his herd of 50,000 roams on only a few of the 27 properties he owns across north and south america. he plans to leave it all to conservation after he's gone. >> when our time's up, it's up. >> no matter how rich you are, doesn't matter.
>> that's right. all the money in the world won't buy you one more day. >> so you might as well give it away. >> might as well. >> portrait of a man temporarily at peace, taking a break from his marathon race with life. catch and release, just like those billions that slipped away. >> out here i don't have to worry about the seven billion i lost. >> seven billion. it makes you stop and think. >> you know, you got-- you can't cry over spilt milk, as i said before. got to press on, my man. ha-ha! another nice one. hee-hee-hee! >> [chuckles] >> ted turner keeps moving. he dedicates most of his time these days to his philanthropic and charitable interests. among his many activities, he serves on the united nations committee to eliminate poverty and is co-chairman of the nuclear threat initiative. he also remains closely involved with his restaurant chain, ted's montana grill, and his bison herd,
which continues to be the largest in the world. [ticking] coming up, the most competitive man in the world. >> his adopted father, lewis ellison, was mainly dismissive. >> he said to you... >> i'd never amount to anything. >> you remember him saying it? >> well, it was his alternative greeting as opposed to, "hi, how are you," or, "how did it go at school today?" because i was constantly questioning authority, he felt that would continuously get me trouble as it had in school, as it had in the boy scouts, as it had on athletic teams. >> but is any part of you that now says, "it gave me a drive that i might not have had otherwise?" >> oh, yeah, i had all the disadvantages required success. >> oracle ceo larry ellison next on 60 minutes on cnbc. [ticking] look, every day we're using more and more energy.
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[ticking] >> larry ellison started the software company oracle with an investment of just $1,200. today he is one of the richest men in the world. he has spent more than $100 million building what may be the most expensive home in the united states. and he's poured at least as much into his quest to win the americas cup. in 2004, when ellison sat down with charlie rose, the number two software maker in the world was pushing his company to be number one, and he was still chasing yacht racing's holy grail. in other words, he was more than living up to his reputation as the most competitive man in the world. [helicopter blades whirring] >> it's a perfect day on san francisco bay. >> normal tack.
bmg. quick fill. hold the angle down. >> larry ellison's boat is usa 76, the one with oracle on its sail. his opponent is named alinghi, the boat that beat him in the americas cup. >> and bill coming up on tacking. >> ellison invited us along for the race, and we wondered just how much he'd spent so far chasing the cup. >> $100 million. >> have you really? >> yeah. >> $100 million? >> close enough. close enough, yeah. $100 million. >> it's that much-- it's worth that much to you to bring home the americas cup, $100 million? >> it was. it's not worth that much to lose the americas cup. [laughter] >> ellison's boat will be the main challenger at the next americas cup, but that's three years away. for now, the boats battle in a series of exhibition races, this one in san francisco. >> got to be real careful we don't have to turn out. >> five minutes before the start, the boats begin to zigzag in a high stakes game
of chicken. 75% of races are won by the first boat to cross the starting line. >> straight at it, larry. just point the bow at it. >> exhibition or not, ellison was out to win. some say you're the most competitive man in the world. >> [laughs] >> i'll bet you in your mind, after losing the americas cup, every day since then, you get up thinking, "how can i win this time?" >> that's--not every day. there's probably a few days that go by i don't think about it. >> but you do. >> but sure, i-- i'm addicted to winning. the more you win, the more you want to win. >> in silicon valley, oracle's glass towers are called larry land. >> ladies and gentlemen, mr. larry ellison. >> the 59-year-old founder built his empire on software that manages data and information for business and government. the software's something like a giant brain, allowing the cia, which was oracle's first customer, to sift through
intelligence gathered from all over the world. a company like ford uses it to retrieve and analyze data on anything from car sales to employee benefits. you've probably used oracle's software yourself at your bank's atm or booking a plane ticket or buying a book over the internet. it is a huge business that has made larry ellison very, very rich. you were briefly, a month, the world's richest man. >> absolutely. that was one hell of a month. everything was different. >> we can joke about it, but you liked it. >> oh, sure. >> you were the one. >> [chuckling] for 30 days. >> microsoft corporation, bill gates. >> he revels in it because ellison becoming number one meant somebody else had to be number two. and that somebody was bill gates, whose microsoft towers over all the competition, including oracle. >> it's an exciting game that's going on right now, and it is to some degree a game. you know, microsoft's in first place, we're in second place.
we're trying to catch them. they're not making it easy. they're an extraordinary company. they're the most important company on earth. >> they've got $50 billion on the bank, and you've got 5, 6 in the bank? >> [chuckling] yeah, we're-- we're far behind. they're three times bigger than we are. they have a monopoly. we don't. darn it. >> yeah. >> [laughs] [rowing machine zipping] >> ellison has the reputation of being a fun-loving playboy. he's been divorced three times, has two kids, and recently married a fourth time to a writer of romance novels, melanie craft. he admits personal relationships were never his highest priority growing up on chicago's south side. >> one time when i was a kid, my sister walked into my room and said, "larry, which is more important to you, to be admired or to be loved?" and i looked at my-- my very bright young sister and said, "well, for me personally, to be admired." she looks at me and smiles. "wrong." walks out. and it took me a while to realize that all of us,
all of us want to be loved, that being loved is more important than being admired. and it's something we have a hard time accepting. >> interesting he would say that, because growing up, larry would say he never felt loved by his own dad. he remembers the time when he was 12 years old, and his father surprised him with the news he was adopted. >> my dad just said right before dinner, "oh, by the way, you were adopted, and we're having meatloaf tonight." >> just that way? >> it was pretty much like that. >> and you thought what? >> it was so shocking, i just put it away and thought about it for years without really, you know, confronting and realizing all of the implications. >> perhaps most shocking because the adoption was all in the family. he discovered that his birth mother had given him up as a baby and that the woman he'd known as his mother was really his aunt. his adopted father, lewis ellison, was mainly dismissive. he said to you... >> i'd never amount to anything. >> you remember him saying it?
>> well, it was his alternative greeting as opposed to, "hi, how are you," or, "how did it go at school today?" because i was constantly questioning authority, he felt that would continuously get me in trouble as it had in school, as it had in the boy scouts, as it had on athletic teams. >> is any part of you that now says, "it gave me a drive that i might not have had otherwise?" >> oh, yeah, i had all the disadvantages required for success. >> and it made you what? competitive, driven, obsessive. >> [laughing] yeah, all of the above, yes. [ticking] >> coming up, larry ellison's eureka moment. >> i said, "oh, my god, this is exactly what we need to do. we can beat ibm to market with ibm's own technology." >> we'll take their idea and run with it. >> absolutely, because ibm doesn't believe in their own idea. >> and then oracle was born. >> right. >> that's next when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. [ticking]
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[ticking] >> was a college dropout working at various jobs in the computer business when he read a report by ibm's research department. it describes software that could analyze and store data. but ibm's management had not acted on the idea. >> i said, "oh, my god, this is exactly what we need to do. we can beat ibm to market with ibm's own technology." >> we'll take their idea and run with it. >> absolutely, because ibm doesn't believe in their own idea. >> and then oracle was born. >> right. >> today, with all this, with the wealth, with the position, with the
opportunities, do you wish lewis ellison was alive and you could say... >> "i made it dad. [laughs] you were wrong. i was"-- >> is any part of you, "i told you so?" >> he saw a degree of success in my life i think that surprised him. >> the kid who'd never amount to anything is now creating a home unlike any other in america. it is really a japanese village, with more than a dozen houses surrounding a man-made lake. he calls it "sanbashi." it's inspired by the ancient city of kyoto and sits on 33 acres in woodside, california. >> everything is pegged, mortise and tenon, tongue and groove. >> no nails. >> no nails, no nails. >> not a single nail on the property. >> not a single nail on the property, no. it's all assembled in the traditional japanese way. >> he brought craftsmen over from japan to do the work. construction started ten years ago and has cost over $100 million. the lake was made earthquake-proof by pouring three separate layers of concrete. thousands of rocks on the
property were each hand picked by a japanese artist. >> the garden is really a piece of sculpture. and the rocks are supposed to look like they were placed here by the hand of god over the last million years. >> japanese culture fascinates ellison. he owns a priceless collection of 16th century samurai armor-- fitting for a businessman whose favorite saying comes from the warrior genghis khan. genghis kahn said... >> he said, "it's not sufficient i succeed; everyone else must fail." that quote i actually got from--i was working in japan, and a japanese executive was describing competition in japan and how they take competition in japan and the pursuit of market share. and this guy said, "anything less than 100% market share was not enough. every time we lose a deal, we feel that rice is-- you know, rice is being taken out of the mouths of our children." >> that killer philosophy can make him a tough man to work for. ray lane was second in command at oracle for eight years, and was pushed out by ellison
when they clashed over the direction of the company. >> i knew i couldn't change the culture of oracle as long as the inventor was still there. >> but what's the culture? >> culture is, win at any cost. so it wasn't good enough for a salesman to make their quota. they had to make 200% of their quota. it was, you know, the top 10% get rewarded millions, and everybody else, you know, falls by the way-- they're weak soldiers. shoot 'em. >> ellison has also been accused of gunning down the competition. right now he's in the midst of a hostile takeover a smaller rival, peoplesoft, potentially putting thousands of people out of work-- all in his effort to make oracle the number one software company in the world. >> i suppose you can say anyone who wants to win so badly, who am i winning for? am i winning for oracle shareholders, or is it simply a matter of personal vanity? i'll admit to it, mea culpa, an awful lot of it is personal vanity. i think we are curious about ourselves. we're curious about our own limits, then we try to discover our own limits.
and a lot of what keeps me going and keeps my drive is, i'm curious as to how far i can go, how far oracle can go. they're inextricably linked. stand by, horizon. >> but the question is, does larry ellison sometimes go too far? he flies his own planes, sometimes the story goes, without good judgment. there is the story that you once flew a plane... >> [laughs] >> under the golden gate bridge. >> there is that story. >> did you do that? >> well, charlie, that would be against the rules. that would be against, uh, aviation rules. so, um, of course not. >> if you did it, would you acknowledge it? >> no, sir. >> what kind of plane would you have done it in if you had done it? >> if i had done it? um, um, uh... i have a--i have a couple of-- >> fighter pilots. >> yeah, fighter planes. both of those would have been good choices. >> whether the story's true or not, what is true is that larry ellison sees it all as a game.
[man shouts indistinctly] in that exhibition race we went along for in san francisco bay, ellison made it first across the starting line... >> get ready to tack. >> and 9 1/2 miles later, he finished first against the current americas cup champion. [cheers and applause] just one satisfying moment for a man whose life is a never-ending race. >> since our story first aired, ellison and his fourth wife, melanie craft, have divorced, and he's continued to live up to his reputation as the most competitive man in the world. his bmw oracle team won the americas cup in february of 2010, and oracle has continued its winning business strategy by swallowing up key rivals, including peoplesoft, and most significantly, sun microsystems. in 2011, forbes magazine named ellison the fifth richest man in the world, with an estimated worth of 39 1/2 billion.
[ticking] coming up, an oil man promotes wind energy. >> how do you know the utilities are gonna take wind power as a substitute for natural gas? >> that may be a mandate. >> so that's a critical point. you may have to have the government demand this happen. >> right. >> suppose it doesn't work. suppose the pickens plan doesn't happen. what happens to the country? >> oh, well, the plan then is foreign oil. >> t. boone pickens' crusade when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. [ticking] ♪ how are things on the west coast? ♪
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>> a texas oil man seems an unlikely candidate to be promising that america can be saved from its dependence no foreign oil by using wind power, solar energy, and domestic natural gas. but when charlie rose met with t. boone pickens in 2008, pickens was doing just that. the outspoken billionaire was warning of a dire energy crisis and proposing a solution that he says will be good for the country, as well as being good for t. boone pickens. >> can i get a picture with you? >> sure can. who's taking it? >> at 80 years old, t. boone pickens acts like a man in the prime of his life. and there is no better place to see that than oklahoma state university.
>> you don't even know who you're having your picture made with, do you? >> thank you, boone! >> thank you, boone! >> he's given his alma mater about $350 million, turned around their football team, and built a new stadium. >> pretty good, isn't it? [both laugh] >> and that's made him a very big man on campus. >> hold it! hold it! hold it. >> so tell me who this is. all: t. boone! >> [chuckles] >> and tell me what he means. >> everything! [cheers and applause] >> but can this billionaire who means everything to them help break america's addiction to foreign oil? it seems to me that boone pickens is a guy that needs an idea and a challenge. he almost needs to be at war all the time. >> i know. they call them crusades. i mean, i've been accused-- "you're a crusader, pickens." >> right. >> and i said, "i don't start out that way." but i'll have to admit that sometimes it ends up kind of like a crusade.
i'm t. boone pickens. >> pickens is spending $58 million of his own money to promote his biggest crusade yet, and probably the biggest of its kind. he calls it the pickens plan. >> it's our crisis, and we can solve it. >> the essence of his plan is to reduce oil imports by 30% in ten years and save the country hundreds of billions of dollars. pickens is an oil man who believed the era of oil is over and that there's enough natural gas in this country to take its place in millions of cars and trucks. >> we own it, and it's abundant and it's cheap. it's cheaper than the oil. and whatever we spend here for energy at home creates jobs, taxes, and the economy goes. >> so this will stimulate the economy in your judgment. >> oh, yeah, we can-- we can do so much here at home with the money here instead of letting it go out of the country. >> the pickens plan, which could be overly ambitious
in this financial crisis, calls for a conversion from oil products to natural gas in vehicles, first, by phasing in two million new heavy trucks, roughly the entire fleet of big rigs that move goods around the country. trucks account for about a quarter of the amount of oil we import every year. if you don't buy into natural gas, you're not buying into the pickens plan as a bridge to the future. >> that's right. >> anybody, whether it's sarah palin or george bush or john mccain, who think you can drill you out of the problem is... >> you don't have a chance. there's no way. we're importing 12 million barrels of oil a day. okay, let's just say that we were gonna replace 12 million barrels by drilling in america. we would be bigger than saudi arabia. and we're stretched for everything. i mean, we are a marginal producer. >> in order for his plan to work, pickens proposes replacing the natural gas that's now used to generate 22% of the nation's electricity
with a new source of power, wind power, created by thousands of wind farms that would need to be built. how do you know the utilities are gonna take wind power as a substitute for natural gas? >> that may be a mandate. >> so that's a critical point. you may have to have the government demand this happen. >> right. >> suppose it doesn't work. suppose the pickens plan doesn't happen. what happens to the country? >> oh, well, the plan then is foreign oil. you're totally at the mercy of foreign oil. >> but it's not at all simple. it would be a massive undertaking, requiring more than $500 billion of private investment in wind power and $150 billion in government subsidies. and pickens wants the next president and congress to remake the nation's electrical grid by declaring emergency imminent domain to run new transmission lines through private land
across the country. is this called a wind corridor? >> yeah, that's the wind corridor. >> that kind of urgent action hasn't been taken since president eisenhower commissioned the interstate highways to move military equipment during the cold war. >> this needs to be identified as emergency, is what it is. it's a crisis. we're at war with no guns in this one. [ticking] >> coming up, t. boone pickens campaigns for his plan. >> what are you doing crisscrossing four states in a day, speaking at breakfast, speaking at lunch, speaking in the evening, meeting people all the time? >> congressman, boone pickens. hi. boone pickens. >> it's like running for president. >> yeah, we're running a campaign at president level. >> on the stump with t. boone pickens next on 50 minutes on cnbc. [ticking] [ male announcer ] when a major hospital
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[ticking] >> yeah. >> pickens is right where he wants to be when he makes a deal--on the front lines and poised to make a profit, which could happen if his plan takes off and the demand for wind power and natural gas eventually soars. the energy hedge fund he now runs, bp capital, invest in natural gas securities. >> hey, marty, i'm home again. >> he's the founder and major shareholder in clean energy fuels, the largest natural gas vehicle fueling company in the country. and pickens has already spent two billion of what he hopes will be $10 billion to build an enormous wind farm. >> there's plenty of wind. >> here, the far edge of his 68,000 acre ranch in the texas panhandle. that's risky in an of itself,
since wind power is still in its infancy, and the financial markets are tight. $10 billion gets you how many turbines? >> $10 billion. oh, i'll have about 2,500. >> yeah, and that'll produce how much power? >> it would service me and 300,000 homes. so it's big. it would be the biggest wind farm in the world today. >> so what's the risk? >> well, the risk is just like the risk we just experienced in the last 30 days. i mean, if the markets fell apart on you, i mean, you could be left holding the bag in that deal. and, you know, you wouldn't be able to finish the project or something. that's the concern i have. >> what's the balance for you between, "i'm doing something for america," and, "i'm doing something for boone?" >> oh, you know, no question. i'm rich enough. i mean, let's don't talk about boone. but i don't want to-- >> what do you mean, don't talk about boone? boone thinks about boone. >> well, let me tell you, i sure as hell don't want to lose. i'll tell you that. but getting rich for me, again,
isn't that big a deal. and, you know, in the last five years, i've given away $700 million. and so i don't-- i don't need anymore money. my standard of living is about as good as it can get. >> whatever the motive, pickens knows he has to sell his plan to the public and to politicians. so he's been barnstorming the country in his $45 million private jet, preaching his gospel to packed town hall meeting. >> before one of these people is picked for president, they've got to give us a plan. >> what are you doing, crisscrossing four states in a day, speaking at breakfast, speaking at lunch, speaking in the evening, meeting people all the time? >> congressman, boone pickens. hi. boone pickens. >> it's like running for president. >> yeah, we're running a campaign that's at president level. >> a lifelong republican, pickens' candidate this election is his pickens plan. and in august, we found him venturing into unfamiliar territory. here we are,
the democratic--democratic-- national convention. boone pickens. longtime republican. what are you doing here? >> i'm here--honestly, what i'm here for is, i'm here for america. this is--my cause is a bipartisan, non-partisan cause. >> but it didn't take long for the new non-partisan boone pickens to have a visibly uncomfortable with his partisan past. >> good to see you. how are you? >> good. >> how are you? >> good. >> senator john kerry, whose presidential campaign pickens helped destroy four years ago when he gave money for the infamous and widely criticized swift boat ads that attacked the senators service in vietnam and his later testimony before congress. >> you spent $3 million funding an advertising campaign that in some people's mind was representative of dirty politics, smear politics, character assassination-- all of that
at this stage, do you have an reservation? do you have any-- >> none. >> none. >> none. >> you'd do it over tomorrow? >> i--i--what i knew then, i know that same thing now, and nothing has changed my mind. >> surprisingly, that hasn't stopped some of the country's leading democrats like senate majority leader harry reid from embracing him and his ideas. >> here is a man who was my mortal enemy. he's my pal now. >> t. boone pickens grew up as an only child in holdenville, oklahoma, during the great depression. this is a house that you grew up in. we didn't have to go to oklahoma to see it. his childhood home was moved board by board right here to his texas ranch. if you did this, it must have memories for you. >> oh, yeah, it sure did. >> at age 12, thomas boone pickens was a paperboy with the smallest route in town. he orchestrated his first merger and acquisition when he talked his boss
into letting him take over four rival routes. >> i said, "28's too small. i got to have more papers." and i finally got to 156. >> did you have any idea that you were headed for a business career at that time? >> no, i didn't. i knew i was gonna make some money sometime. >> [chuckles] >> but i didn't know-- >> and how did that turn out? >> i didn't know how much i was gonna make. they turned out pretty good. >> he made his first big money searching for oil and built mesa petroleum into one of the most successful independent oil and natural gas companies in the country. he attributes his success to being relentlessly competitive, which we saw when he took us skeet shooting on his ranch. [gunshots] >> [laughs] [gunshots] >> pickens took his hunt for oil to wall street in the 1980s as one of the original corporate raiders, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and shareholders of the companies he tried to take over.
>> yeah, it's so frustrating. i--i hate it. >> he went through a long dry spell after that, until he hit his 70s and came back bigger than ever with a new company and a new love, his fourth wife, a wealthy heiress named madeleine paulson. they've created a sanctuary for themselves at their texas ranch, but that hasn't insulated them from the current financial crisis. pickens is getting battered by it. >> clean energy down $1.35 at $10.50. >> whoo! >> the steep drop in oil and gas prices since july has cut the value of pickens' hedge fund in half. among those who have suffered, his alma mater osu, which has lost about $100 million off investments the school made with money pickens had donated and then managed in his hedge fund. overall, pickens and bp capital are down a staggering $2 billion. 2 billion? >> 2 billion, yeah. >> that's serious money.
>> serious money, no kidding. no kidding. >> will boone get it back again? >> yeah, i'll get it back. >> and there it is, the credo this oil man has lived by all his life: if one hole is dry, the next one is bound to be a gusher. and that's what he hopes his pickens plan will become. >> you're 80 years old. i mean, in other words, it puts you in a race against time. >> absolutely it does. you're absolutely in a race against time. that's where i am. i've got to make it happen fast. >> so you got a real sense of urgency. >> damn right i do. >> since our report first aired, the pickens plan has run into some strong headwinds. in 2009, he scrapped his plans to build the world's largest wind farm in the texas pan handle due to delays in transmission line construction. despite that setback, he continues his crusade to wean american off its addiction to foreign oil. but he's switched his main focus from wind energy to natural gas.